Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Holy Spirit's Preparation for Christmas

Hebrews 9:9-11a9 "The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 10 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come ....."

The Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrews signifies that the entire history of the Old Testament was orchestrated by God the Father and spoken forth by the Holy Spirit through the pens of the prophets to prepare for the first coming of God the Son.  In Numbers 28-29 for example, we see a listing of every major sacrifice, Jewish Festival and Priestly activity to be carried out in the Jewish calendar. 

Who the Holy Spirit was pointing to in the Old Testament
When you read such chapters and scratch your head saying: "so what?"  The so what of the details of the sacrificial system point us to the "So Who" of eternity.  In Hebrews 9:9-10 the writer tells us that all of the little details and ceremonies were imposed by God "until a time of reformation".  The word for "reformation" speaks of "straitening, improving, healing a broken limb, making better".  In other words, the Holy Spirit was working through the "times of the Old Testament" to get ready for the ultimate season, the fulness of time in which Christ would come in the virgin birth. The Old Testament way of doing things was not adequate to cleanse the conscience.  God had a better system, a better covenant in mind - whereby He was going to take every promise and prophecy and bring them to completion in the Person of Jesus Christ.    

How the Holy Spirit prepared for Christ's First coming
All times, ceremonies and people of the Old Testament were but shadows of the True Light who was to come - Jesus Christ.  Hebrews 1:1-2 states: "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." What God the Holy Spirit was moving all of human history and redemptive revelation to bow at the feet of the One who would be in the cradle, hang on the cross and rise to be the victorious Conqueror - Jesus Christ.  As Hebrews 9:10 tells us, all of these things were "imposed" by God.  That word "imposed" speaks to the idea of "insisting or driving home the point".  The Holy Spirit was persistent and progressive in the revealing of the 109 prophecies, dozens of foreshadowings, rise and fall of empires and 39 Old Testament books.  

The Holy Spirit's involvement in bring Christ from eternity into time
 Hebrews 9:11a states: "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come...."   How is it that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came into this world from eternity into time?  Answer: by the working of the Holy Spirit.  If it had not been for the Holy Spirit's active involvment, the first Christmas or Advent of Jesus would not had been possible.  Think of how the Holy Spirit was involved in Christ's arrival into this world:

1). Inspiration of the Scriptures1 Peter 1:11 tells us concerning the Old Testament Prophets: "seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow."  In Isaiah 7:14, we see such an example of the Spirit's work of Divine inspiration: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."

2). The Virgin Birth.  As we just read, the Holy Spirit through the prophet Isaiah predicted the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.  This truth is a cornerstone doctrine of the Christian faith.  The angel Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:35 - "The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." 

The Holy Spirit's work in the virgin Mary's womb enabled the Divine Son to journey from eternity into time, since it was the Spirit who worked with Mary's DNA to fashion a body of humanity for Christ to assume. (Hebrews 10:5-9) The Holy Spirit's work in the virgin birth preserved Jesus' humanity from inheriting the original sin of Adam, since the sin nature is transmitted through the father's bloodline going all the way back to Adam. (1 Peter 1:18-19)  1 Timothy 3:16a gives insight into the Holy Spirit's preservation of Christ's human nature from sin: "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit...."  In a miracle that we cannot fully comprehend, the Holy Spirit used the womb of Mary to create a genuine human nature for God the Son to assume.  Simultaneously the Spirit bypassed the need for a natural human father to ensure that the Son's human nature would be sinless.  Quite literally Christ in his humanity was the genuine Son of Mary while in His Deity remained Eternally the Son of the Father, equal in power and glory. (John 1:1) 

More tomorrow.....

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